2009 Joel Palmer Award


Fair Connections: Women's Separatism and the Lewis and Clark Exposition of 1905
Summer 2008

by Deborah M. Olsen

In the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries, women used the platform of world's fairs to bring publicity to their work and to advance their interests. Women had traditionally worked separately from the men who organized and ran the fairs, but the 1904 St. Louis Exposition marked a shift toward integration.

Men who led Portland's 1905 world's fair claimed they had embraced the new, integrationist model, but Deborah M. Olsen's close study of newspaper articles, correspondence, and fair records reveals that Oregon women actually embraced the separatist model to achieve success on two projects — the annual convention of the National American Woman Suffrage Association and the commissioning and prominent display of a statue of Sacajawea. Olsen's research also highlights the contributions of Sarah Evans, a journalist whose work on the two projects helped lay the foundation for the successful 1912 Oregon woman suffrage campaign.

Deborah M. Olsen teaches history at Linfield College, where she also serves as Competitive Scholarships Advisor. Some of her earlier work, which has appeared in the Transactions of the Bristol and Gloucestershire Archaeological Society, the Oregon Historical Quarterly, and the History of Education Quarterly, has focused on Richard Champion (eighteenth-century English merchant, porcelain manufacturer, and friend of Edmund Burke), the music of the nineteenth-century Aurora Colony in Oregon, and promotional literature at women's colleges in the 1940s. Olsen is a graduate of Mount Holyoke College and holds an M.A. in history from Boston University.

Honorable Mentions

Picturing Progress: Carleton Watkins's 1867 Stereoviews of the Columbia River Gorge
Fall 2008

by Megan K. Friedel and Terry Toedtemeier

In 1867, California photographer Carleton Watkins traveled throughout the Columbia River Gorge, creating now famous mammoth-plate photographs, as well as lesser known stereoviews, of the surrounding landscape. Those stereoview photographs, according to Megan K. Friedel and Terry Toedtemeier, tell a rich story of a landscape in flux, caught between Euro-American settlement of the pioneer era and an emerging modern era. Given the dynamism that has characterized interaction between humans, particularly Euro-Americans, and the Columbia River, Watkins's prints show the river in a moment of perceived calm, yet on the brink of irrevocable change. The prints also tell the story of their creator's personal relationships along the river.

Megan K. Friedel was most recently an archivist at the Oregon Historical Society Research Library. She earned her M.A. in History as well as an M.L.I.S. at Simmons College and was the co-curator, with Terry Toedtemeier, of the Oregon Historical Society's exhibition, Carleton Watkins: Stereoviews of the Columbia River Gorge. Her research interests include the visual history of the American West and women's narratives of traveling the West by auto during the early twentieth century.

Terry Toedtemeier, who died in December 2008, was Curator of Photography at the Portland Art Museum and co-editor of Wild Beauty – Photographs of the Columbia River Gorge, 1867–1957 (published by Oregon State University Press in 2008). Toedtemeier was a photographer whose personal interest was in the geologic history and geographic distribution of the Pacific Northwest's extensive basalt formations. He earned a B.S. degree in Earth Sciences from Oregon State University in 1969 and maintained an active interest in geology and mineralogy. The author of numerous articles on photography, Toedtemeier had a strong interest in the history of photography in the Northwest.

Voyage of the Isaac Todd
Winter 2008

by H. Lloyd Keith

During the War of 1812, the British North West Company endeavored to expand its fur trade operations in the Oregon Country, an undertaking historian H. Lloyd Keith researched by studying personal correspondence and business records. The maiden voyage of the company's newly established globe circling trade route was assigned to the Isaac Todd, a recently acquired vessel owned by John McTavish, nephew of the company's senior partner. Hostilities between America and Britain forced the trade ship to sail with a military escort, and military engagement with American ships was especially a concern in the disputed territory of the Columbia River. Keith concludes that although the Isaac Todd completed its trade mission, the endeavor resulted in considerable financial loss to the company, forcing the North West Company to greatly reconsider its commercial policies.

H. Lloyd Keith, who died in November 2008, was a member of the Centre for Rupert's Land Studies and Professor Emeritus in sociology and history at Shoreline Community College, Seattle, Washington. He was the author of North of Athabasca: Slave Lake and Mackenzie River Documents of the North West Company, 18001821 (2001) and was at work on a documentary history of the North West Company's affairs on the Columbia River, 1807–1821.